Cocker Ellie is inseperable from her lady owner

Ellie

Cocker Spaniel Ellie’s previous owner died, so now she has come to live in a lovely home with two other Cocker Spaniels, one male and one female. She is three years old.

Life before Ellie was a bit easier. She is a more nervous dog, and on occasion she has suddenly gone for the other female, who retaliates. No serious damage has been done so far as they have been separated in time, but it is very distressing for the owners – especially the lady, as it seems these fights only happen around her.

The fact the lady is always there could simply be because Ellie is inseperable from her. She follows her absolutely everywhere and looks anxious should she even go to stand up. However, fighting has not happened when the lady has left the dogs with other people at home.

All dogs are very well loved and much cuddled – by the lady in particular. Now there is a third less stable dog added to the little pack, the spoiling and lack of leadership is causing problems. Giving too much demonstrative human-style love and cuddles to a nervous or needy dog, particularly while the dog is growling, is sure to reinforce any problems she already has. Reinforcement drives behaviour.

Ellie does quite a lot of growling, especially when one of the other dogs walks towards the lady (to whom Ellie will be as near as possible and who will probably be touching and tickling her). I believe all growling is a warning of sorts unless in boisterous play (and I wouldn’t encourage that either), and should be taken seriously. She may growl if the daughter touches her. If constantly ignored, a dog then may take things to the next level. There are a lot of people coming and going in this busy household, and I noticed a visitor leaning over Ellie, trying to touch and fuss her whilst she was backing off, growling. She needs protection.

Ellie needs space. She needs calm and she needs time to get used to her new home without any pressure. Each small fight has occurred around stress or excitement, and around the lady. One incident occured shortly after I arrived. The atmosphere was more charged because I, a stranger, had just arrived. The dogs were about to be fed and the lady accidentally dropped Ellie’s food out of the bowl onto the floor. The lady will have been a bit agitated which dogs pick up on immediately and it was a perfect scenario for Ellie to attack the other female when she had finished her own food and approached Ellie. Fortunately I carry a large bag and I have fast reactions! I was instantly able to swing it between the two and the spat stopped as quickly as it began.

It is very hard for some affectionate and demonstrative people to stop constantly touching their dog, but this sacrifice is vital in order for Ellie to settle down and become less needy and more confident. A little dog full of growls, ‘possessing’ her lady owner and protective of her own personal space unless she herself has initiated contact, is an ‘incident’ waiting to happen.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.